Press Release

Electrification Challenge for Aircraft (ECLAIR) Consortium

July 2, 2018 (JST)

National Research and Development Agency
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

On July 1, 2018, JAXA launched the Electrification Challenge for Aircraft (ECLAIR) consortium in collaboration with IHI Corporation, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd., Subaru Corporation, Hitachi, Ltd., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Aero Engines, Ltd., Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). The objective of the ECLAIR consortium is twofold; developing innovative electric aircraft technology to reduce CO2 emissions and other negative impacts from aviation on the environment and incubating initiatives across industries to stimulate exponential growth of the country's aviation sector.

In recent years, powering aircraft by electricity has earned recognition as a way to curtail emissions, a common challenge that the global aviation takes on. For the last two decades or so, the performance has considerably improved of batteries, inverters, motors, among other electrical systems of hybrid and electric vehicles. Some of this technology has achieved the level to be applied to electric aircraft, or smaller/lighter aircraft powered by electric motors. In fact, a number of countries have undertaken developments of electrically powered aircraft for commercial introduction.

Next-Generation Aeronautical Innovation Hub Center, JAXA Aeronautical Technology Directorate leads the ECLAIR consortium. Serving as a platform where government, academia and industry collaborate, ECLAIR employs the open innovation that brings together Japan's cutting-edge electric and aviation technology. The goal is development of emission-free airplanes which yield absolutely minimum CO2 emissions. Specifically, the consortium first implements a vision of future electric aircraft on which to develop and aims at improvements of the technology that Japan excels. An open forum is scheduled for December 2018 to publicize the initiatives taken by the consortium.

To ensure applications of the technological development embodied by the consortium, ECLAIR will work in close cooperation with METI, which supervises Japan's aviation industrial policies. METI plans to positively use the consortium to raise the competitiveness of Japanese companies, in particular, those which have great potential of growth as exemplified in aviation that promotes electric trification.